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Landmark College Student Excels in Education

Sam Mayo smiles for the camera, sitting on a park bench. He is wearing a light blue shirt, a patterned blue tie, and navy pants. He has short blond hair.

This article was originally published in the Johnson Scholarship Foundation’s 2023 annual report about Landmark College, a grantee partner of the foundation. Click here to read more content from the annual report.

Sam Mayo, a person with autism, had a significant speech impediment as a young boy. As he got older, school became more of a challenge. By junior high, he had been labeled a troublemaker. 

“His communication skills made it difficult for people to understand him,” his mother Stephanie Mayo said. “He would zone out but then come back, and Sam didn’t want to raise his ideas or questions. One teacher thought he was an incredible kid, but everyone else came down on him. That was heartbreaking.” 

Stephanie knew her son’s education was at stake, so she enrolled him in a homeschool resource center in their hometown of Lexington, South Carolina. When it was time to think about Sam’s future, Stephanie had to face a new challenge. She learned about Landmark College’s dual enrollment program from her sister, who taught science at the homeschool center. 

In 2022, the Mayos visited Landmark College to learn about the online dual enrollment program, which JSF helps fund through a matching grant. Located in Putney, Vermont, the college provides highly accessible learning approaches to individuals who learn differently. 

“I looked all over. Many schools had a department for kids who learn differently—but these kids don’t have a neon sign,” said Stephanie, explaining that not every student learns the same way. “As soon as we got on campus, I knew what Landmark was about. It was an easy decision.” 

“He was excited and also a bit apprehensive about dual enrollment, college-level education,” she wrote in an email. “[Landmark went] out of their way to make him feel heard, accepted, and understood.” 

Just two weeks after Sam started taking classes, his attitude toward schoolwork changed. That fall, Stephanie learned about the Johnson Scholarship. 

“We knew the tuition cost—we were looking at the yearly tab thinking, ‘Oh, help!’” she recalled. “The scholarship covered nearly all of the costs, and gave Sam the opportunity to get to know Landmark’s style and prepare for an actual college experience.” 

“As soon as we got on campus, I knew what Landmark was about. It was an easy decision.”

Sam is currently a freshman* at Landmark, where he says he’s glad to be near other students with autism. Sending a child to college is a big change for any parent. Still, Stephanie says she feels safe knowing her son is at Landmark. 

“For the first time in his life, [Sam] is interested in his own education and pushing himself,” she said. “We are so proud of him, and I tell him that all the time.”

 

 

Sam Mayo was a freshman at the time this article was written.

JSF Awards Grant for Dual Enrollment Program

Landmark College, which enrolls neurodiverse students who learn differently (LD; including dyslexia, ADHD, autism, or executive function challenges), has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Johnson Scholarship Foundation. The five-year matching grant supports the college’s efforts to sustain and expand its online dual enrollment courses, which offer neurodivergent students uniquely engineered college courses as they prepare for the transition to higher education, and to create other college-level online programs which similarly help students during the important, often challenging high school, gap year, and year one of college periods.

“We are pleased that the Johnson Scholarship Foundation sees the value in supporting our online programs, which started in earnest nearly a decade ago, and which are particularly needed now,” said Landmark College President Dr. Peter Eden, who wrote the grant application. “These funds will allow the College to not only strengthen and grow our online programming, they also will provide scholarship support for many students heretofore underserved by traditional courses or programs, and unable to afford tuition costs.”

Landmark’s online offerings adapt the unrivaled model of comprehensive support that has made its undergraduate program on the Putney, Vermont, campus successful over the past 35 years, and integrate intentional pedagogical elements within each online course which lead to student success.

Johnson Scholarship Foundation Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Krause says the Landmark College online offerings are great examples of programs that fulfill the Foundation’s mission to serve disadvantaged people by assisting them to obtain education and employment.

“We are pleased to support this dual enrollment program at Landmark College,” Krause said.  “We believe the program will serve as the foundation for a successful higher education experience for young people with learning differences, and it will lead them to greater opportunities in education and employment.”

For more information about the Landmark College Online Programs, visit www.landmark.edu/online.